John Byrne is a candidate for Division 10 in the Ipswich City Council election. He is against reopening the coal mine at Ebenezer and granting new mining leases in the region.
John Byrne is a candidate for Division 10 in the Ipswich City Council election. He is against reopening the coal mine at Ebenezer and granting new mining leases in the region. Claudia Baxter

Candidate's crusade to stop mining

HE'S pitted himself against a councillor with a high profile and 22 years experience, but John Byrne says he's in it to win it.

Mr Byrne is contesting Division 10 in the council election against the flamboyant David Pahlke, who has been in councils since 1991.

Coincidentally, Mr Byrne said that for 22 years he had been a building project manager for nursing homes, hostels and retirement villages.

He also said he spent seven years on the Isis Shire Council.

But he knows what he's facing, although he's adamant there's enough opposition and a mood for change to unseat Cr Pahlke.

"I went into this with my eyes open," Mr Byrne said.

"I'm a completely self-funded, independent candidate supported by my wife and children.

"We're totally opposed to reopening the Ebenezer mine and any coal seam gas exploration or activity in our region.

"With the LNP win at the last election, that opened my mind up because they support both those initiatives. So it needs someone to take a positive stand.

"I'm running to win; I don't do things half-hearted. I've invested quite a lot of our own money into the campaign. My wife and children have distributed over 3000 flyers over the past week and are continuing to do so."

He said he was hamstrung by having to work full-time during the campaign but the support he felt showed people wanted change.

"They feel they're not getting the representation they deserve and it's good to see someone in there having a go," he said.

"And I think after 22 years there's enough built-up feeling for an opposition candidate to come along and make a bit of a change."

Asked if he sensed a mood for change - maybe to John Byrne - Cr Pahlke's response was: "Someone new? John Who?"

Although aware of other issues, Mr Byrne is pinning his election hopes on his opposition to reopening the mine at Ebenezer.

He said when mine boss Jack Tan visited Ipswich last year, Cr Pahlke supported his plan to reopen Ebenezer.

Cr Pahlke said he was against coal seam gas mining and issuing new mining exploration permits and mineral development leases.

"When I met with Jack Tan the number one urgent thing was coal seam gas and we got an iron-clad guarantee that it was not on the agenda," Cr Pahlke said.

"I was not aware the mining lease on Ebenezer had expired by three years. If I'd known that then I would have taken a different stance. That's why I'm supporting the court action against the mine reopening."



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